The Nigerian Navy has confirmed the arrest of four suspected oil thieves identified as employees of Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited allegedly carrying out an operation in the Lekki area of Lagos State.
Tantita is a security outfit contracted by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited to protect pipelines from vandalisation.
A statement made available to Channels Television on Thursday noted that the Navy stationed at Forward Operation Base (FOB) foiled the attempted oil theft operation on the waterways near Itolu community which occurred in the early hours of Tuesday.
Local youths reported gunshots in the vicinity of the community, the statement said, prompting naval patrol teams to immediately launch a response operation.
“Upon arrival at the scene, the naval team met 4 individuals dressed in black polo shirts with TANTITA inscribed on the back, trying to recover a dismantled outboard engine from a local,” the Navy said.
“The team recovered the engine and apprehended the 4 Tantita Employees. It was after this arrest that the Patrol Team realized that the 4 individuals are part of a movement of a large wooden boat with 2 fiber boats.
“The 4 arrested individuals beconed on the 2 fiber boats to approach them but when they noticed NN patrol teams, the boats altered courses fled away and abandoned the large wooden boat laden with 11 x 1000L Geepee tanks with product suspected to be stolen crude oil.”
The arrested individuals were identified as Asonja Goddey (28), Obajimi Oluwaseyifunmi (38), Awoowo Aribo (35), and Oluwadaisi Balogun (40), all of whom are said to be indigenes of Igbokoda in Ondo State.
According to the Navy, they were “trying to forcibly employ” the owner of the boat, Ishola Ojubuyi, 42, who has been taken into custody.
“The Nigerian Navy has initiated an investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident particularly the possession of firearms used in the community, economic sabotage, how the product came from Ondo State to Lagos State as well as attempting to steal a boat engine from the locals,” the statement said.
“One Mr Owoyele Omotuyi who was identified as a Tantita staff, came to secure release of the 4 apprehended, claiming they are Tantita employees. All suspects along with the confiscated exhibits, will be handed over to appropriate agencies for further necessary action and prosecution.
“The Nigerian Navy under the watch of Vice Admiral EI Ogalla, Chief of the Naval Staff, remains resolute towards ensuring the maritime environment is conducive for legitimate businesses necessary for economic prosperity of the nation.”